Boeing CEO champions free trade at Washington event

Washington (AFP) –


Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg on Wednesday emphasized the importance of free trade agreements for the aerospace giant -- deals under scrutiny by President Donald Trump's administration.

Muilenberg, speaking at a meeting of The Economic Club of Washington, said that his company is a major US job generator and exporter.

"We have about 90 percent of our manufacturing here in the US. We sell about 70 percent of our products outside the US," he said.

The aerospace industry is a leading US exporter, contributing towards a trade surplus.

"So we need trade agreements that allow us to compete globally, to sell globally, and that is a part of creating manufacturing jobs," he said.

The Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs are not currently affecting Boeing sales. "We have a combination of domestic and international suppliers," he said. "But this is something we are watching."

On March 8, Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports in the name of national security.

But on April 30 Trump said he was holding off the levies, offering a 30-day reprieve to major metals exporters Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Regarding China, the United States has threatened tariffs targeting $150 billion in Chinese imports, while China has warned $50 billion in US goods are in the firing line.

Trump has long accused China of using unfair practices to gain an advantage over US exporters, thus costing US jobs.